In a recent InformationWeek on the evolution of IT success metrics, Lisa Morgan outlines something Eggplant has long espoused: it’s critical that the IT department’s KPIs align with business goals in order to drive optimal outcomes. She writes, “The right thing to report is IT’s impact on the business. For example, instead of reporting system downtime alone, one automotive manufacturer’s IT department now reports system downtime in terms of inventory that wasn’t produced.”
Morgan’s piece goes on to acknowledge that moving from traditional IT metrics to a more comprehensive business-oriented perspective necessitates a cultural shift and includes anecdotes from IT leaders from various industries about some of the challenges they faced in enacting this change. One of them is quoted as saying, “Don’t ever talk to me about the IT roadmap. It’s a business enablement roadmap.”
This is really insightful advice, particularly for leadership with a traditional view of IT as a support function. And while there are numerous factors that go into aligning IT with business goals, we’d argue that many of these ultimately originate with testing. After all, if a company wants to reengineer IT measurement it follows that they will first need to modernize how they monitor, test and optimize the performance of their technology.
The automotive manufacturer Morgan references in her piece is an example of the type of insight Eggplant’s continuous intelligent test automation platform provides. Our solutions enable companies to significantly reduce downtime while simultaneously identifying the business impact of any technical issues—thereby providing both tech and business leaders with an understanding of how performance is affecting business outcomes.
So, what can companies do to ensure their KPIs are tied to business objectives? As James Anderson, senior director analyst at Gartner, told Morgan, “A lot of people believe it’s just a matter of cherry-picking operational metrics and bringing those to executive decision-makers. They’re all reporting on the wrong things.”
To help organizations report on the right things, Anderson offers the following seven characteristics of successful IT metrics:
- A clearly defined and defensible causal relationship to the business outcome.
- The metric is a leading indicator.
- Unique to the organization’s requirements.
- Addresses the intended audience’s business decision making.
- Reflects the language of the audience.
- Dashboards should drive action—not just display static data.
- Has a business context.
To be successful in the digital age, Morgan’s article concludes, “…CIOs and their teams need to translate what they do in business benefits and measure their success by business outcomes instead of how much work they do.”
Learn more about how Eggplant supports this shift from a testing perspective and translates testing data into actionable business insights.